EU bias exposed as not a single citizen from Central and Eastern Europe appointed to leadership role across bloc last year

By John Cody
4 Min Read

Not a single citizen from Central and Eastern Europe (CEE) was appointed to a leadership position within the EU institutions last year, according to a new report that shines a light on the gross underrepresentation of the region within the bloc.

The Geographical Representation in EU Leadership Observatory 2024, published on Monday by European Democracy Consulting, revealed the continued bias in favor of Western Europeans for leadership roles, where 73 percent of all new appointments originated from Western Europe in 2023 — up significantly over the 35 percent recorded between 2018 and 2020.

Meanwhile, no one from Central or Eastern Europe was rewarded with a leadership role in 2023, and those handed such opportunities in 2021 and 2022 accounted for just 2 and 4 percent, respectively.

“Overall, figures for 2023 and for the 2021-2023 triennium show a dramatic worsening of representation for citizens from Central and Eastern Europe,” the report states.

The bias, however, is more ingrained in the wider European political landscape than just the European Commission and the European Council, where 33 percent of appointments were made in the last three years. CEE candidates are also being overlooked for the positions decided upon by member state governments and their representatives, which comprise 67 percent of all appointments.

The report observed hundreds of appointments made to executive leadership roles within the EU institutions, along with its advisory bodies and agencies, covering 73 EU entities and 539 office-holders. Entities looked at range from the European Commission, Council, and Parliament, to the European Central Bank and Court of Justice, to bodies such as the European Anti-Fraud Office and European Research Council.

It warned that such a “clear and continued lack of representation of large segments of the population is detrimental to citizens’ feeling of proper representation and, therefore, to their trust in their common public institutions.” The report also stressed the importance of reviewing the sociology of European leaders, “with a particular focus on their national citizenship,” to prevent further alienation of citizens in certain regions of the continent where Euroscepticism is on the rise.

In its recommendations, European Democracy Consulting urged pro-European voices not to leave the results of its analysis to Eurosceptic movements and called on prominent Europhiles to “acknowledge the lack of proper geographic representation” within the leadership of EU institutions and its “likely negative impact on citizens’ inclusion.”

It further requested EU leaders to establish goals to redress the balance and adopt affirmative action policies to diversify leadership positions and make them more inclusive.

Central and Eastern Europe has long considered itself to be playing second fiddle to the more dominant nations in Western Europe, with many questioning whether the region’s reluctance to fall in line with the progressive, liberal agenda set in Paris, Brussels, and Berlin, results in either a subconscious bias or a concerted effort to keep CEE candidates away from roles where they can affect policy-making.

The attitude from Eurocrats towards Hungary, Poland until recently, and now Slovakia following the election of left-nationalist Robert Fico and President-elect Peter Pellegrini would suggest many within the EU institutions are content with keeping socially conservative voices out of the limelight.

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